John Garrison, president and CEO of Bell Helicopter, announced yesterday morning at the Paris Air Show that the Fort Worth, Texas-based rotorcraft builder is developing a new “short, light single” (SLS) helicopter that will be powered by a Turbomeca Arrius 2R turboshaft engine. The new, “clean sheet” aircraft, which Garrison said is expected to fly next year, will be the first Bell helicopter to be powered by a Turbomeca engine. Certification of the new helicopter will take place “as quickly as possible” after the first flight.
Performance goals for the SLS helicopter include a speed of 125 knots, a range from 360 to 420 nm, a useful load of 1,500 pounds and a ceiling of 11,000 feet, said Garrison. He explained that the model’s expected performance is targeted to satisfy requirements that Bell has derived from input generated by the company’s customer advisory council and that the name of the new Bell model would be announced at Heli-Expo 2014.
The new Bell SLS will feature a glass cockpit (provider not yet decided), dual channel Fadec on the engine, rear clamshell doors, high-inertia main rotor and capability for wire-strike kit installation.
“The SLS class is both extremely competitive and price sensitive,” Garrison said, “so we collaborated with customers to incorporate their mission needs in a high-performance, high-value helicopter at a very competitive price.” Asked to be more specific, he said the price would be in the price range of the Robinson R66 on the low side and Eurocopter EC120 on the high side.
The Arrius 2 turboshaft, which provides power in the 450- to 550-shp class, will be controlled by dual Fadecs and meet IATA Stage 4 noise targets. Olivier Andries, Turbomeca chairman and CEO, said Turbomeca has delivered 3,000 Arrius engines and the fleet has accumulated more than 6 million flight hours. The engine has a 3,000-hour TBO. “We are incredibly excited to be working with Bell Helicopter,” Andries said. “Our teams have been working together for some time now on this project.”